The learning and development landscape for business is changing. Training once held in classrooms or remote Zoom meetings is morphing into virtual learning environments jam-packed with immersive virtual scenarios. Does this sound a lot like the virtual reality (VR) video game that your nephew is obsessed with? You can picture him in the VR goggles right now, right?
In gaming, a player can enter and interact with other people in a virtual world, each represented by a unique avatar. Yep, that’s the same technology that I’m talking about. It’s called a metaverse, and it’s not just your nephew, the universe is obsessing over it. So much in fact, that Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of Facebook to Meta last year in an effort to rebrand and get meta-focused.
The Metaverse is not all Fun and Games Anymore
The term metaverse was coined 30 years ago as a combination of the words meta (meaning beyond) and universe. Simply, the word metaverse describes a graphically rich virtual universe beyond the one we live and breathe in right now. You can think of it as the internet in 3D. In a note to clients, investment bank, Morgan Stanley wrote that the metaverse is ‘like the next evolution of the internet’. And it’s blowing up the old standard delivery methods of employee training—across all industries.
Virtual reality or augmented reality is not a fad or your nephew’s hobby. More industries are taking advantage of virtual reality eLearning technology, now more than ever. The metaverse was named one of the top five emerging technologies and trends for 2022 by Gartner.com and it’s not slowing. Businesses that want to thrive in this ever-changing world need to learn the advantages of virtual learning environments and understand that the metaverse is not just for the big tech companies.
Virtual reality is the future of every industry’s eLearning curriculum. It’s time to get on board or be left behind to play the catch-up game. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at VR trends and how the metaverse is already positively transforming the learning and development efforts of many industries so far.
Training with Virtual Reality—Then and Now
In the past, workforce training that integrated virtual reality technology was thought of as doing seemingly secretive things like—training military fighter pilots or highly skilled heart surgeons. We always knew it existed, but it wasn’t something we’d be seeing outside of a laboratory or a place needing secret clearance to enter. For many of us, this type of virtual learning has always felt like something reserved for an elite group of people. You know, like, for the fighter pilots and heart surgeons of the world. Well, not anymore.
In 2017, Walmart began utilizing virtual reality to train and assess employees in many areas. From empathetic customer service skills with realistic scenarios to learning new tech, workforce training at Walmart has seen many benefits and success. A senior director at Walmart’s U.S. Academies stated ‘that VR training boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15 percent’.
Virtual reality eLearning can create realistic and interactive experiences to train employees. It helps managers understand how employees will react when challenged by difficult customers. For example. Walmart used virtual reality eLearning to prepare employees to handle the chaos of a packed store on Black Friday. If a stampede of angry customers who did not get the last TV on discount becomes very aggravated, what are the options? If you think about it, your nephew, the gamer, with his VR goggles might get dropped into similar situations that he must figure a way out of. Not at Walmart, but you get the picture. eLearning integrated with virtual reality lets the gamer become the learner.
The opportunities are limitless because augmented reality learning allows learners to engage more with training material of all types. All industries can benefit to include baristas, construction workers, engineers, tile layers, and nurses. The list goes on. Specifically for industries with workers operating heavy machinery, Forbes.com reported that it makes sense to use virtual and augmented reality to train people on the machinery and have them safely learn before conducting the activity in real life.
What are some of the benefits of VR Training?
Here are several benefits reported by companies already using virtual reality training for their workforce:
- Contributes to a safer and more productive workplace
- Repeatable and scalable courses promote cost-effectiveness
- Reduces human errors
- Increases learning material retention
- Decreases turnover
- Boosts confidence
Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and the Metaverse is Here to Stay
Nearly every company and industry must train their people. It’s important for learning and development decision-makers to pay attention to the virtual reality eLearning possibilities and how to leverage it to benefit their businesses. If they don’t, somebody else will. Consider when the internet started catching on and companies started popping up with websites. If a company advertised with a website, it was considered incredibly advanced and savvy, right? The metaverse is the next step beyond the internet. And it’s starting to catch on.
Statista.com reported that ‘the global augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) market reached 28 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, rising to over 250 billion U.S. dollars by 2028.’ That’s a considerable increasing trend in the AR, VR, and MR markets in just a short period of time. It’s clear that virtual reality or the metaverse is the technology of our present and future in life and business. Businesses and industries that offer training integrated with virtual reality environments are considering their long-term goals and preparing for the future. They want to be ahead of the game with the latest in technology advancements, which help them work smarter.
The Irony of Virtual Learning Environments
Virtual reality was once thought of as something only in science fiction movies, or better yet, fantasy. Which, it kinda still is. I mean, in a virtual learning environment you can create any type of metaverse you want. Anything you can think up, really. Whether it’s a Walmart or a walk alongside a unicorn, a metaverse can be created to represent reality or fantasy—the irony is that virtual eLearning uses fictionally created scenarios to teach very real skills. What are you waiting for?